Until relatively recently, most office environments were characterized by the messy clutter of hard-to-navigate filing systems and bulky, space eating cabinets – that was the stuff that was organized at great human resource cost and company time.
As a result, individual professionals may not be working in harmony. Sound familiar?
If you are busy, maybe that file that you are frantically looking for will get lost in a sea of paper – on the desk you thought you had cleaned the week before. If you are in a rush, maybe that important memo from the head office will be rendered unreadable – drowned in brown liquid by the mid-morning take-away coffee.
Thinking ahead in a fast moving environment may not always be possible, and when you arrive for that important meeting with your top client, only to realize that your ledger document is back at the office or you’ve forgotten to print out the itinerary, you run the risk of losing business, or at the very least, looking unprepared and unprofessional.
All these scenarios are little frustrations of daily life that you, your business, your staff, and, most importantly, your clients can do without, right?
Suffer no more.
Cloud computing has been labeled as the future, but it is very much the technology of now – and the benefits are multifold.
Online document management has revolutionized the way businesses work by offering them invaluable resources such as clutter management, access to files in remote locations, and most importantly, time.
Put simply, online document management increases productivity and workflow by making it easier to share information, navigate files, and access data anywhere, anytime. It helps you and your business work better. Work teams benefit through easier collaboration, and individuals have access to files on their computers or smartphones – that would normally take hours to locate – within seconds.
Online document management also makes perfect economic sense for large and small businesses alike to make the switch. Potentially, a measureable amount of money can be saved by reducing the amount of paper used and, as a happy consequence, the environment wins too. Your staff members are also freed from the time guzzling process of dealing with paper management and negotiating complicated file storage systems.
In mere seconds: Search filename – press enter – there is your file. Easy.
So, what are your options?
There are several applications that can be easily utilized to sync files that offer ample file storage, all targeted at different audiences, with different needs and at varying cost.
Google Docs – soon to be Google Drive – offers a drag and drop platform that allows multi-access for authorized users to edit and share files for business or personal use. It is particularly helpful in avoiding the old problem of having files that are too big to e-mail and allows users to always have a synced version of an edited file in real time. It’s ideal for personal and business use alike and especially useful in sharing word documents and spreadsheets that go through many rounds of editing. You get 5GB of free storage with Google Drive and rates apply for anything above that up to 25GB.
Dropbox allows you to sync all your files seamlessly across multiple devices – such as a phone, laptop, tablet, or desktop, rendering the need to constantly e-mail files to yourself or use USB flash drives happily redundant. Again, Dropbox can be equally beneficial to an individual’s or businesses needs. You can store up to 2GB free. 50GB costs $9.99 per month, and 100GB costs $19.99 per month.
Box.com has been utilized by over 120,000 companies around the world as a collaborative tool that makes online file storage much easier, while replacing the need for FTP. It also easily connects work teams in an online environment. It’s perfect for getting that PowerPoint presentation right or getting a second opinion from your colleagues about that press release you’re about to give to the media. Box.com is similar to Dropbox but has added features and controls more, therefore appealing to the enterprise or advanced user. You can get a 14 day trial for business accounts of 3 to 500 users and after that, rates will apply. Contact their website for latest pricing.
What about financial files?
Accounting and bookkeeping can be an arduous task for small business owners who would like to redirect more time to the core elements of their everyday business without having the stresses and strains of tedious paper storage, where files take an age to manage and locate. While the majority of online storage solutions are aimed at larger companies. Programs designed for financial document management give you the opportunity to store accounting and bookkeeping documents and those items that you need to access promptly like invoices, expenses, bills, bank statements, and check stubs – all in one location. One solution is Ledgerdocs, a program specifically tailored to the needs of small businesses and their financial document management.
LedgerDocs differs from the previously mentioned applications in that it is specifically designed for the online, secure storage and sharing of financial documents and accountancy and bookkeeping documents, rather than editing of files in real time. Since it’s web-based, it works with both PC and Mac. LedgerDocs is also unique from Dropbox or Box.com because you can e-mail your financial files directly into LedgerDocs. The company offers a fully functioning 30-day trial of their product . Pricing after that starts at $4 a month for 1 project with 2 users, plus 500 document storage, to $99 a month for 10 projects with unlimited users, plus 10,000 documents storage.
In layman’s terms, it’s about deciding what works for you and your business. It all depends on the type of business you are in, but there are a plethora of options out there to explore and get your business running at optimum performance.
Article by Robert McNamara for AccountingWeb